KHACHILIFE Book Club: All About Design

October is all about design here at KHACHILIFE, and so we’ve rounded up some of our favourite books on the subject. From architecture to food to interiors, these fabulous volumes celebrate and inspire, and are a must for any home library.

This Brutal World (Phaidon)

For years the Brutalist style of architecture was despised. Now it’s experiencing a comeback, thanks in no small part to Peter Chadwick, founder of the London-based studio A Popular Space. Two years ago the art director started tweeting photos of forgotten Brutalist buildings. Today he’s the author of This Brutal World, a handsome coffee table book from Phaidon that’s dedicated to the raw, concrete style of architecture. The tome highlights recent work, as well as older buildings that have since been demolished. In a sense, the book doubles as a form of preservation, bringing to light virtually unknown Brutalist architectural treasures from across the former eastern bloc and other far-flung parts of the world.

Designed by Apple in California (Apple)

Designed by Apple in California is every inch an Apple product. It took eight years to develop, is bound in white linen, and is printed on “specially milled, custom-dyed paper with gilded matte silver edges.” Longtime Apple photographer Andrew Zuckerman shot all 450 pages of products in the company’s signature style — high definition hero shots of technology, set on a white background. This is product porn at its least apologetic.

The World of Charles and Ray Eames (Rizzoli)

The Eames Chair has become a perennial classic, a staple of the modern office and home. But many people don’t know that the name Eames refers not to one designer, but two: Charles and Ray Eames, a husband and wife team of American industrial designers. Together they contributed greatly to the changing landscape of modern furniture, architecture, graphic design, and fine art.

This volume, produced with the help of the Eames estate, presents visual materials, archival research, and personal writings from the couple’s time at the Eames Office, as well as contemporary reviews and magazine articles. It charts their careers and lives as they map their way through the post-war era, helping to forge a new aesthetic in American design.

Sunday Sketching (Abrams Books)

What sparks the imagination? How do we harness creativity and transform it into art? In Sunday Sketching, Christoph Niemann uses his whimsical illustrations to explore the concept of working creatively. An illustrator, graphic designer, and co-author of multiple books, Niemann is a man of many hats; this volume is a retrospective of sorts, exploring Niemann’s career path and struggles along the way. Original sketches, travel journal excerpts, and newspaper features fill this charming volume, highlighting Niemann’s vast body of work and examining his subtle, genius observations about ordinary life.

This book is a breath of fresh air for the artist struggling from a mental block or creative slump.

Scandinavia Dreaming (gestalten)

Nordic design in the last century forged a new aesthetic: a delicate dance between the ornate and colourful folk art of its fabrics and friezes, and a newly streamlined, white-on-white minimalism. The result is a design trend that feels, in some ways, evergreen: a timeless appreciation for light, manifesting in interiors that accomplish the feat of being airy and cosy, all at once.

Scandinavia Dreaming is a series of stunning photographs of modern Nordic interiors, accompanied by anecdotes from their inhabitants and insightful discourse on Scandinavian design from those in the creative community. It’s the perfect book for the season as we all bunker down and turn to the art of hygge to help us survive another winter.

Emigre No. 70: The Look Back Issue (Emigre/Gingko Press)

Between 1984 and 2005, Emigre, a digital type foundry, published one of the most widely regarded graphic design magazines of all time. During its run, Emigre produced sixty-nine controversial, ground-breaking issues. No. 70 uses original digital files and reprints to revisit an era that saw the advent of the Apple Macintosh and the rise of Silicon Valley, when the ability to produce graphic design was suddenly possible for anyone with a desire to learn and a computer.

This commemorative issue celebrates everything that made the publication great, re-examining critical essays and in-depth interviews that explored the exciting, transformative graphic design work that defined—and was defined by—the 1980s and 1990s.

Visual Feast (gestalten)

We live in a sharing culture — and one that is fixated, for better and worse, on food. Platforms like Instagram provide endless opportunities for curating our lives, and today we consume content as quickly as our meals.

Visual Feast plays to our appetite for food — food that satisfies us visually as much as it nourishes. With imagery ranging from the beautifully artistic to the downright absurd, the work of food photographers and stylists is compiled here to examine the art of food styling and the complex relationship between our eyes and our stomachs.

The Kinfolk Home: Interiors For Slow Living (KINFOLK)

Here at KHACHILIFE, we endeavour to promote the art of living well; in a similar spirit, Kinfolk promotes quality of life. The multi-faceted brand publishes a quarterly magazine and runs a daily-updated website, and also boasts a range of bestselling books.

Interiors for Slow Living, by Nathan Williams, is filled with text and visuals that explore the interiors of thirty-five homes around the world, each of which in some way reflects the value of ‘slow living’. Homeowners discuss how their ideals and worldviews have shaped their physical spaces, with the common thread being that each interior featured has been created with slow, insightful purpose.

Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible (Phaidon)

Dieter Rams, the famous German industrial designer who served as the Chief Design Officer at Braun from 1961 – 1995, is well-known for establishing his ‘ten principles for good design’, and was focusing on sustainability as early as the 1970s.

This monograph explores his life and work, and how those strict principles culminated in game-changing product design that tended towards minimalism. He once explained his approach to his practice with the simple phrase, “Weniger, aber besser” — that is, less, but better. This volume, minimal in its own right, includes sketches, technical drawings, photographs, and archival materials from Rams’ work and life. It’s the perfect coffee table book for any minimalist interior.

Syrie Maugham: Staging Glamorous Interiors (Acanthus Press)

While the white-on-white aesthetic might be something we associate with Scandinavian modernism, one of its earliest pioneers was British interior decorator Syrie Maugham, whose work was extremely popular during the 1920s and 1930s. This volume, compiled by Pauline C. Metcalf (an expert in 19th and 20th century American interiors), explores Maugham’s vivacious designs on both sides of the Atlantic. Given that many of her clients were the A-List figures of the day —European aristocrats, American socialites, and Broadway stars — this book’s wealth of photographs provide a unique perspective into luxurious living during the birth of modernity. This is the perfect book to place on your shelf if you foster of a love of vintage elegance and plan to redecorate.